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any coasting trade, along the shore of the British terri- Colonial trade. tories in the East Indies; and shall carry direct to some port in America, and not to Europe, whatever they shall receive as lading in the East Indies.
Such is the state of the colonial trade as it at present exists; and such are the relaxations, which, in favour of a new state of things, the growth of our colonies, and the competition of foreign islands, have been introduced to qualify the rigour of the ancient system, and to conciliate as much as is possible the interests of our commerce and navy. But though the changed circumstances of the times have compelled the legislature to make these concessions, it is still to be observed that, in the very deviation from the rule, they have never forgotten the rule itself. They have always so qualified the exception as to restrain the indulgence granted within the necessity of the case. They have deviated only as gradually as was possible. They have in no instance made a total sacrifice of the fundamental principle of the subordinate importance of our commerce, when in immediate competition with our navy. The greatest inroad upon this system has undoubtedly been by the admission of a direct trade between the United States and our West India Islands: but the growth of our colonies rendered this concession necessary; and the consequence of refusing this relaxation would have been the entire surrender of the American market to the foreign West India islands. The lucrative trade of our colonies with the South American continent is equally necessary; and the permission of this trade by law has only placed upon a legal basis what before was an illicit traffic. The exportation of our rum by vessels engaged in this trade at once encourages the West Indian planter, and in no degree interferes with any interest of the merchant in the mother country. The provision and lumber trade is found to be an indispensable traffic; and it is certainly cheaply purchased by allowing a direct exportation of colonial produce to the United States. Upon the same reasons of policy are the relaxa
Colonial trade. tions of the Navigation Law in the direct trade between the colonies and foreign Europe.
The general inference from these provisions, at once necessary, and confined to such necessity, is, that the government and legislature have only departed from the Navigation System within the degree of the urgency of new circumstances, and have always remembered the reason of the rule in the necessity of the exception.
The second division of our Navigation System respects
and America, the trade with Asia, Africa, and America, not being colo
not being colonial.
In this trade, the principal object of the legislature was to encourage British shipping; and to abridge, if not altogether to extinguish, the Dutch carrying trade. The object of the third and fourth sections of the navigation act were twofold; first, to deprive the Dutch of being the carriers of Europe, and to prevent all importation from the opulent countries of the East, except in British ships; and next, to prohibit the rich commodities of these countries from being imported from any other place than those of their original growth and manufacture; or, at least, from such ports only where they could be, or usually had been, first shipped for transportation.
Under the principle of necessity, however, it became necessary, very early, to depart from the strict letter of these sections; and several successive acts were passed to except silk, bark, and drugs, &c. from these clauses. The multitude of these acts, and the cases which had risen under them, at length produced such a complexity in the law, and such inconvenience amongst ship owners and merchants, that the legislature found it necessary to consolidate the several provisions in one act. The 3 Geo. 4. c. 43. was principally passed with this purpose, and now constitutes the existing law of this division of
Under this act, the rules for regulating this branch of our trade may be substantially stated as follow. 1. All goods and merchandize, the growth or manufacture of
Asia, Africa, or America, may be imported from any place Trade with into the United Kingdom in British built ships, and in British and America, built ships only, except as hereinafter mentioned. 2. All colonial. goods, the growth, &c. of Spanish Royal America, may be imported in any Spanish built ship whatever, manned, &c. according to law. 3. All goods, the growth, &c. of Spanish Independent America, must be imported in vessels of the built and ownership of the place of growth, &c. that is to say, in Spanish Independent vessels. 4. All goods, the growth of any part of Spanish America, concerning which it is yet doubtful whether such part is to be considered as royal or independent, may be imported in any Spanish vessel whatever. 5. All Turkish goods must be imported either in Turkish ships, or in ships of the built of the usual port of shipment, or in British built vessels, &c. 6. Raw silk and mohair yarn of the growth of Asia, or of Turkey in Europe, may be imported into the United Kingdom from any port in the Levant seas, in any Turkish, Levant, or British ship; or from Malta or Gibraltar in any British ship. 7. And all goods, the growth, produce, &c. of the dominions of the Emperor of Morocco, which have been imported legally and directly into Gibraltar, may be imported thence into the United Kingdom; but in British vessels only, owned and navigated according to law. 8. Malta and its dependencies are to be regarded as a part of Europe.
It will be seen that the principal alteration in this head of our Navigation Laws is, by dispensing with the necessity of a direct importation of the produce of Asia, Africa and America. The merchandize of the three great continents may now be imported, in British ships, from any part of Europe; but except, under peculiar circumstances, such foreign merchandize can be imported from Europe, for exportation only. Goods and merchandize, of the growth, produce and manufacture of Asia, Africa, and America, when intended for home consumption, must be imported direct in British vessels, except in those cases which are provided for by 3 G. 4. c. 43.
The third division of our Navigation System respects the European trade, the rules of which were (until recently) contained in the eighth and ninth sections of the Navigation Act of Charles the Second; and were in substance, that the built and ownership of the ship should be of the same country with the goods. This statute, however, having been passed in a period of jealousy, and at a time when the true nature of commerce was not understood, it contained many prohibitory clauses, some of which have been occasionally repealed by acts passed for the purpose, whilst others were suffered to remain. The law had thus become inconveniently complicate, and foreign merchants most justly complained of some vexatious and invidious enactments. To remedy this mischief, and to consolidate all the useful and necessary enactments in a brief and perspicuous form, the two acts of 3 Geo. 4. c. 42., and the 3 Geo. 4. c. 43., were at length passed, and compose the existing laws of the European trade. The first of these laws is a general repealing act, and is limited to the repeal of all the former acts upon this subject; the second act contains, in a very brief compass, all the rules of the trade.
Following the order of this act, these rules may be very briefly stated. 1. All the following goods and merchandize of the growth or production of any place in Europe, that is to say, masts, timber, pitch, tar, tallow, hemp, flax, fruits, wine and brandy, olive oil and vinegar, may be imported into the United Kingdom in British built ships, or in foreign built ships, &c. of the place of growth or manufacture, owned, manned, and navigated according to law. 2. All goods, the growth of Turkey in Europe or Asia, may be imported into the United Kingdom in British or Turkey ships, &c. 3. The goods of Spanish Royal America may be imported in any Spanish ship, manned, &c. according to law. 4. The goods of Independent America must be imported into the United Kingdom in Spanish Independent American ships, and of the built and ownership of the place of growth. 5. The
act of 3 Geo. 4. c. 43. is not to be so interpreted as to European interfere with the trade between England and the United States, nor between England and Portugal, as now established by law or long usage. Nor to alter or repeal the corn laws, nor such part of the Navigation Act as relates to bullion and prize goods.
Such are the existing rules of the Navigation System, as regards our European trade.
The fourth branch of our Navigation System respects Coasting trade. our Coasting Trade, which it regards to belong as peculiarly to British subjects, as the internal navigation of the country itself. Upon this principle, the law confines it entirely to British ships, seamen, and capital; and, as modern times have admitted no relaxation of this original rule, it affords no observation for further remark.
The fifth division of the Navigation Laws respects our The Fisheries. fisheries, the existing rules of which may be summarily stated to be as follow:-The Fishery Acts being specially exempted from the statute of 3 Geo. 4. c. 43. 1. Every British vessel employed in the British fishery shall be British-built, British-owned, and shall be manned and navigated by a master and mariners all British subjects. 2. No fish whatever, of foreign fishing, excepting only eels, stock fish, anchovies, turbots, lobsters, sturgeon, and caviare, shall be imported into England (a). 3. All fish caught according to the first rule, i. e. by British subjects, British ships, and duly manned, &c. may be imported into Great Britain duty free (b).
The value of our fisheries, both as a pre-eminent branch of commerce, and more particularly as tending to give a constant supply of seamen and maritime skill to our navy, is too obvious to require any further observation; except that, from the very commencement of our system of naval defence, our legislature has recognized their importance, and in every period has supported our exclusive possession of them by the most active encouragement.
(a) 18 Car. 2. c. 2. 32 Car. 2. c. 2. 10 & 11 Will. 3. c. 24. 1 Geo, 1.
st. 2. c. 18.
(b) 49 Geo. 3. c. 98. s. 13.